For the Love of Books

On Second Hand Bookshops, Independent Bookstores, Libraries and Personal Issues

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I know I have issues. I’m just not clear on what the issues are. Is it my irrational and consistently growing collection or is it because I self medicate with books? Is it that I hide from the world inside of books?

Reading is good for us! Isolation is bad for us!

If you want to be smart read lots of books! Having a lot of books means you’re a hoarder and hoarding is a clinical diagnosis!

Are you really going to read all of those books?

Dear Society,

Please stop with your contradictory standards.


If I were to close my eyes I could still feel that distinct stiffness of the page. I could smell it because books have a very specific odor, you know? A swooshing sound fills the air right before the jolting thud of the cover closing.

And, bookmarks. The options are never ending. Neon and pastel colors, various shapes and sizes, white space for writing notes or tassels and the type with adorable cat photographs. Bookmarks have the unintentional ability of matching with the reader’s mood and the tone of the book.

There, in my hands live worlds existing in words and the knowledge of things I have yet to learn. Reading can also make me suffer, though. The countless hours of sleep I’ve lost due to, Just One More Page syndrome.

Common symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are risky and impulsive behaviors. As for me, I buy books. I bought three this morning.

“I buy books.”- Erika Sauter

This obsession, addiction, whatever it is, is not my fault. I’m being set up, framed and manipulated.

Bookstores, libraries and shopping online with one click, they’re being pushed on me as if they’re drugs. Marketing emails, pop up ads and Instagram. It’s in my face and I can’t resist.

The second hand bookshop is where all the vintage treasures live. Who wouldn’t purchase the original O. Henry collection for only $40?

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Then there’s the independent bookstore with a revolving door for amazing author readings and other super awesome guests. There’s no way I could walk out empty handed, because who walks out of a bookstore without purchasing a book after an event?

Hey, sign my copy please!

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“And most of all, books. They were, in and of themselves, reasons to stay alive. Every book written is the product of a human mind in a particular state. Add all the books together and you get the end sum of humanity. “ — Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

The Library (a.k.a. a reader’s crack house). It’s totally not my fault they allow you to borrow up to 45 items for three weeks at a time, delaying any possibility of me reading my previously purchased and stacked 864 books I have yet to read.

Then there’s the library’s, At Will Donation sales. I don’t need more books, do I? Well, no but it’s for a good cause. Who doesn’t purchase books for a good cause?

Anyone who doesn’t is only contributing to the ugly chaos that thrives in our world today. Do your community a solid by keeping the public library alive.

Books give me hope and fill me with enchantment. Mm, there’s nothing like the feeling of triumph when I reach the end of a good book.

Books allow us to see through the eyes of others, experience life far removed, travel to wondrous places both real and make believe, live in the past or the future. Education, history, biography. Nonfiction, memoir, fantasy and fiction.

If what’s said about writers and niches is true then my niche is, Compulsive Reading Disorder (among other things).

I admit, it’s gotten out of hand. I’ve gotten out of hand. My stacks of books have gotten out of hand, but is any of it out of hand, really?

There’s piles of books everywhere, for real tho and I can acknowledge that, although it’s space consuming I’m not entirely convinced it’s a problem.

My home library is stuffed with books so I started stuffing books in my home office, then my art studio and now my bedroom. I built a bookcase for my bedroom six weeks ago and the selves are already overfilled with books stacked on top and on the floor on both sides.

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.”- Anne Lamott

At some point I must entertain the possibility that I’m the cause of the problem, if it is in fact a problem. I can’t continue to point fingers and accuse.

My intention is not to sound negative. I love books, clearly and dearly but I don’t want to be the girl with a dusty collection, or the girl who buys a second copy because she had no idea she’d purchased a first, or the girl who doesn’t practice what she preaches when she writes, “Check your local library first.”

I spend roughly 24 hours a week reading books but still, I’m never going to get through my colossal collection if I don’t stop adding to the pile.

I’ve read stories of people who read 100- 500 books a year. Maybe that’s true? I’ll never accomplish reading at that pace but I can set a realistic and obtainable goal.

The goal is not to read a monumental amount of books. The goal is to not buy anymore books.

This will be hard, impossible in fact. I had resolved, not as in a resolution but more so a quest that I would not purchase a single book in 2018 and instead make it my mission to read books I already own.

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”- F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve purchased since January 1st and the list I have yet to buy is so ridiculously long.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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